Dice has been an iffy company in the past. On top of that, Battlefield is published and distributed by EA, notably one of the worst video game companies in the world, as widely argued by gamers everywhere. With their most recent installment in the Star Wars series, a reboot of Star Wars Battlefront, leaving even the most die-hard Battlefront fans widely disappointed, the years and months leading up to the release of Battlefield 1were filled with mixed feelings. Not to mention, the bugs and technical issues that made Battlefield 4 dread whatever was coming next. People began to expect the future, and only the future, in upcoming war-based shooters. Call of Duty proved that this was the way to go, as it’s still one of the highest grossing video game series of all time. But Dice decided it was time to take a step back. A step back of about 100 years to be exact, to World War I. We’ve only been to World War I a few times (compared to how many times we’ve seen World War II or anything following), with games like Verdun and Wings of War. So Dice dared themselves, and dared players, to go back, to one of the most brutal, horrific, fatal wars in history.
Battlefield 1 finds its rhythm deep within its campaign, a multi-character driven, six-story narrative that visits the diverse fronts of the war. The stories traverse the world, from the “Harlem Hellfighters”, young African-American men pushing hard through frontline combat; to a newly enlisted, young British tank driver; to a cheating gambler who finds himself deep in enemy territory, fighting in the skies and on the ground; a soldier in the Italian Arditi fighting his way up and down the Alps; a grizzled, experienced Australian veteran, sprinting across the coasts of Gallipoli; all the way to the campaign of Lawrence of Arabia, fighting an invisible war in the deserts over the world’s black gold. The stories, which can be played in any desired order, don’t just allow the war to be played, they allow it to be relived. While one or two characters seem to fall just a bit to rushed writing, most provide emotional attachment that hasn’t been seen since Bad Company or Bad Company 2. While fiction provides endless possibilities, it doesn’t provide the same impact as non-fiction or even creative non-fiction. Over the past couple campaigns of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, Dice took the fiction route, much like most wartime shooters have since World War II was the main platform. Only a few wartime shooters have managed to impress with original story, Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty Black Ops, Battlefield 3, Battlefield Bad Company, etc. While the stories told in Battlefield 1 were written, they still manage to capture the beautifully horrific savagery of World War I, use the real facts, and put forth impressive, gorgeous, emotional campaigns.
Battlefield 1 continues to impress throughout the menu. Multiplayer delivers the classic Battlefield feel with game types like Conquest, Rush, Domination, and Team Deathmatch. But where the multiplayer really shines is in Dice’s new addition, Operations. A campaign within multiplayer, Operations provides a huge playing field, where players fight on various fronts of the war, capturing objectives in waves. With small narratives at the beginning of each battle, Operations provides somewhere to go after the stellar campaign is finished without fully delving into the strictly multiplayer aspects of game modes like Conquest and Rush.
Battlefield 1 takes players through one of the most terrifying times in our world’s history when war was all we knew, and the cost of everything was a life. Dice managed to capture the horrors of World War I, and morph them into something commemorative and beautiful. Battlefield 1 is beautiful, brutal, and true to itself. It doesn’t embellish, it doesn’t exaggerate, and it doesn’t diminish. It takes one of the most intensely bloody wars in the history of our planet and delivers it with perfection. An interactive memorial, Battlefield 1 doesn’t just allow a playground in which to shoot, fly, and sprint, it provides a canvas on which to paint the past, and remember those who served.